Archive | November 2013

Chase Sapphire Preferred Now With Chip and Signature…sort of!

I saw reports last week of several people (like The Points Guy here) mentioning they were able to get a new version of their Chase Sapphire Preferred card sent out with a smart chip. Chip and pin cards are frequently used internationally, and having a chip and signature card (smart chip but no pin) definitely helps while traveling through Europe. I used my Citibank Hilton Reserve with a chip in Europe earlier this year. I was very excited to hear chips are now available for the Chase Sapphire Preferred as it has no foreign transaction fees and therefore is already a great card to use abroad. A smart chip means the card will be more widely accepted as the typical US cards are sometimes not accepted by certain card readers.

I called the number on the back of my card last week to request one. The first representative I spoke with said they weren’t available. I figured since it was a new feature I’d call back to make sure. The second representative I spoke with said they were! They sent me a new card which arrived in a day or two. I excitedly opened the package and found an exact replica of my current card (no chip!). I called back AGAIN and the third rep said she was sorry, and that she would send another. Fast forward two days and I open ANOTHER replica of my current card – again no chip. I called again today and was told the chip version is currently only available for the Visa version, not the MasterCard! It turns out the first representative was right. I now have three copies of my Chase Sapphire Preferred and am anxiously waiting for whenever the MasterCard versions become chip enabled.

Westin Tampa Bay Review

I mentioned attending Frequent Traveler University (FTU) last month, and our brief stay at the Best Western. Around the middle of September I received a targeted email from Starwood for a “buy one, get one free” type promotion. I decided to take advantage of this promotion and stay at the Westin Tampa Bay even though the FTU event was held at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay (which is also great).

The terms of the promotion stated “Thanks for registering. Just complete one eligible stay between August 1 and October 31, 2013, and your Starwood Preferred Guest account will receive a Free Night Award. Even better, it’s yours to use at over 1,000 Category 1–5 hotels and resorts through December 31, 2013. “

This promotion was perfectly timed in that we were attempting to choose a hotel for one night in Kyoto or Osaka during our Japan trip later this year. Both the Westin Osaka and Westin Kyoto are category 5 hotels and were valid for the free night award stay. So I decided to forego the Hyatt and stay in the Westin Tampa Bay. At the point I was targeted I was a relatively new SPG member, with only one award stay and the Amex card.

Following our Best Western adventure the night before, the Westin was paradise. Again I had booked double beds, and similarly to the Best Western there was a small charge to change to a king. But this time, we were offered a bay view for free (without having an issue first). I have “Preferred Guest Plus” status with Starwood due to having the American Express card. It gives some of the benefits of the lowest level of status, but not much. Yet the Westin Tampa Bay staff was highly attentive and very friendly, especially in comparison to the experience the night before.

The room was very nice, and the beds were “heavenly”.

Westin Tampa Bay

Westin Tampa Bay

The bathroom was very spacious, and had a separate tub and glass enclosed shower with dual shower heads. I’m not a huge fan of bathroom pictures, but the Westin Tampa Bay’s standard room baths were fairly nice.

Spacious Bathroom with Tub and Dual-head Shower

Spacious Bathroom with Tub and Dual-head Shower

The bay view was absolutely gorgeous, which made the nice room feel even better.

Tampa Bay View from the Westin Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay View from the Westin Tampa Bay

It was even nicer the following morning when we woke up.

Sunrise View - Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in the distance

Sunrise View – Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in the distance

When we woke up, we went down to the restaurant in the lobby called Aqua for breakfast. They had  a great breakfast buffet that was only $15 per person. We loved it – highly recommended for anyone staying here.

Aqua Breakfast Buffet

Aqua Breakfast Buffet

We enjoyed our great stay at the Westin Tampa Bay and woke up refreshed for the second day of Frequent Traveler University. Shortly after, a free night award was deposited into my Starwood Preferred Guest account. We are now booked for a free night at The Westin Osaka later this year!